Karlskoga (Swedish pronunciation: [kaɭˈskûːɡa] (listen))[2] is a locality and the seat of Karlskoga Municipality, Sweden. Located within Örebro County, 45 km (28 mi) west of Örebro,[3] and 10 km (6 mi) north of Degerfors. With a 2020 population of 27,386 distributed over 10.55 square miles (27.33 km2), Karlskoga is the second-largest city in both Örebro County and the historical province of Värmland.

Björkborn Manor, Karlskoga Church, Karlskoga Art Gallery
Björkborn Manor, Karlskoga Church, Karlskoga Art Gallery
Alfred Nobel's Karlskoga
Karlskoga is located in Örebro
Karlskoga is located in Sweden
Coordinates: 59°20′N 14°31′E / 59.333°N 14.517°E / 59.333; 14.517Coordinates: 59°20′N 14°31′E / 59.333°N 14.517°E / 59.333; 14.517
Country Sweden
CountyÖrebro County
MunicipalityKarlskoga Municipality
Named forCharles IX of Sweden
 • Chairman of the municipal boardTony Ring (M)
 • Total27.33 km2 (10.55 sq mi)
 • Total27,562
 • Density991/km2 (2,570/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)

Karlskoga straddles the northern shore of Lake Möckeln.[4][5] Among the city's main topographical features are the two rivers, Timsälven and Svartälven. Other features include an esker, Rävåsen, contiguous with the city center.[6] The broader Karlskoga-area differs from its bordering regions, as covered by woodlands and an uneven topography that more fitted other activities rather than agricultural practices.

Karlskoga evolved around the arms manufacturer Bofors, and by 1970, it counted almost 10,000 employees.[7] The many jobs in the arms industry during the 1900s multiplied Karlskoga's population. Today, Karlskoga is still a thriving center of the arms industry, but its economy is more diverse than during the peak-Bofors era.

Karlskoga is also home to the Björkborn Manor, on the property of the Björkborn Works, where Alfred Nobel lived. His residency there is the reason his will was adjudicated in Karlskoga at Karlshall, establishing the Nobel Prize.[8] Other landmarks include the Nobel Laboratory, the Karlskoga Church, Mässen, and the Bofors Hotel.


Karlskoga was initially called Möckelns bodar,[9] Möckelsboderna[4] or Bodarna,[10] being derived from cottages located at the shore of lake Möckeln.[11] The locality's name "Karlskoga" was coined in 1591, and has been in use ever since. It is derived from Charles (Karl) IX,[4] with skog meaning woods.[12]


Pre-16th centuryEdit

16th centuryEdit

Karlskoga and its surrounding area were sparsely populated in the beginning of the 16th century.[11] It was not until the 1580s that the area started to see an increase in population, when Charles IX made people settle in the area. Ethnic Swedes (people from the historical provinces of Närke and Södermanland), and particularly Finns,[a] began to settle the area,[12][13] where they took up the farming method slash-and-burn. They were followed by Huguenots, fleeing religious oppression in France,[14] and by other groups including both Dutch and German settlers, mostly skilled metalsmiths.[14]

The parish of Karlskoga was established in 1586 and a wooden church was soon built. It was small in size, and was solely made up of the sacristy still preserved at this site,[15] which was a consequence of population increase in the years prior. The first priest elected was Olaus Gestricius,[16][b] by the late 1500s.[18] In the 17th century fourteen small iron works and eight waterdriven hammers for bar iron were established. Most of these were still operating in the 1860s, but the dominating ironworks was the one in nearby Bofors. In 1871, Bofors produced 6,124 metric tons of iron, more than any other plant in Sweden. In 1882, Karlskoga parish (socken) had 11,184 inhabitants.

19th centuryEdit

The first aerial photograph by rocket was of Karlskoga using one of Alfred Nobel cameras c. 1897, rocket possibly by Captain Wilhelm T. Unge.[19]

The town of Karlskoga has evolved around Bofors, which in the late 19th century was transformed from an iron works to a manufacturer of cannon and in the 20th century to a more diversified defense industry. Bofors was incorporated in 1873 and has since the 1880s been specializing in the lucrative manufacture of cannon.

The most famous owner of Bofors was Alfred Nobel, who owned the company from 1894 until his death in December 1896. He had a key role in reshaping the ironworks to a modern cannon manufacturer and chemical industry. During the summers of 1894–1896 he lived in the manor house Björkborn.[20][21] Even though he died in his villa in Sanremo, Italy and had a home in Paris, it was decided that his legal residence was at Björkborn in Karlskoga. Because of that it was here his famous testament that was written in Paris in 1895 was legally registered, which eventually made it possible to establish the Nobel Prize.

20th centuryEdit

In 1940 the town of Karlskoga and the surrounding area (the same territory as today's Karlskoga Municipality) got the formal title of a city (stad). Since 1971 this term has no legal meaning and only the built-up area is considered a de facto town. Karlskoga spent most of the 20th century as a growing company town to Bofors. Only with the demilitarization in the most recent decades has this started to be a problem for the town. There were 8,500 workers in Bofors in 1980, but the number had decreased to 2,600 as of 1998.


Karlskoga is situated more or less in a low mountainous ridge called Kilsbergen that separates Närke from Värmland.

Such areas have traditionally been financially poor. This led to a significant Swedish emigration to North America from the district in the latter half of the 19th century. Stockholm, Wisconsin was for instance founded in 1854 by immigrants from Karlskoga.[22]


The many residential communities of Karlskoga express a character distinct to the company town. Million programme residential buildings can be found in enclaves such as Baggängen, Ekeby, Sandviken and Skranta.

The Rosendal neighbourhood, historically significant for the architecture of its homes,[23] planned community by the Bofors Works, was designated as an area of national interest for cultural heritage.[24]


Historical population
Population size may be affected by changes in administrative divisions.

Karlskoga's population grew steadily from the time when arms manufacturer Bofors had started to expand, until the 1970s. Thereafter, it underwent a sharp decline (down by almost 10,000 inhabitants over a 30-year period), with signs of recovery only in the very last few years as of 2021.[25][26] Nevertheless, with 27,386 inhabitants, Karlskoga is the second most populous place in Örebro County following Örebro (126,009).

The presence of foreign residents in Karlskoga accounts for 16.5 % of inhabitants. This compares with 19.1 % in the town Örebro.


In the 1580s, a total of five Finns settled in Möckelsbodar (present-day Karlskoga).[27] In 1649, 32 of a total of 186 agricultural holdings were occupied by Finns.[28]

In 2017, the three most commonly reported ethnic origins (by-birth) overall were Finns (935 or 3.1 per cent), Syrians (650 or 2.1 per cent) and Somalis (409 or 1.3 per cent).[c]


Various religious denominations and congregations are based in Karlskoga, including the Saint George Catholic congregation, established in 1956,[30] and the Bofors Baptist congregation, established in 1884.[31]

Language and dialectsEdit

In 2012, Karlskoga Municipality received its status as a Finnish-speaking administrative municipality.[32]


The city is an important center for the arms manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries; it is home to various multinational corporations, including subsidiaries and -divisions of Bharat Forge, BAE Systems, Saab AB (SAAB Bofors Dynamics), Cambrex Corporation, Recipharm, and Moelven Industrier.[33]


Karlskoga is home to several stadiums, of which Nobelhallen is the largest (it hosted the 1979 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships).

Professional sportsEdit

Karlskoga is home to the ice hockey team BIK Karlskoga, currently playing as per the 2021–2022 season in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier of Swedish ice hockey.

There is also a football team called KB Karlskoga FF, and a women's soccer team, Rävåsen IK.

Notable peopleEdit




International relationsEdit

Twin towns – Sister citiesEdit

Karlskoga is twinned with:[34]


  1. ^ Also referred to as Forest Finns, as per the ethnic group settling the forest areas of Sweden proper during late 16th and early-to-mid-17th centuries.
  2. ^ Alternative spellings include Olavus Johannis, Olof Hansson, and «herr Olaf på Möckelnsbodar».[17]
  3. ^ Data applies to Karlskoga Municipality.[29]



  1. ^ a b "Tätorternas landareal, folkmängd och invånare per km2 2005 och 2010" (in Swedish). Statistics Sweden. 14 December 2011. Archived from the original on 27 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  2. ^ Jöran Sahlgren; Gösta Bergman (1979). Svenska ortnamn med uttalsuppgifter (in Swedish). p. 13.
  3. ^ "Karlskoga". www.informationsverige.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Valeur, Bent. "Karlskoga". lex.dk (in Danish). Den Store Danske. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  5. ^ "Karlskoga". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Rävåsen – Naturreservat". Karlskoga – Visit Värmland (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  7. ^ Fransson, Stig A (2001). "BOFORS – förändringsvindar i gammal tid och nutid" (PDF) (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 November 2022. Bofors är nu som störst och har nästan 10 000 anställda i Karlskoga.
  8. ^ Carlsson-Lénart, Mats (30 December 2015). "Alfred Nobels testamente - Nobels hästar det sista triumfkortet". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  9. ^ Lindberg 1895, p. 4.
  10. ^ Thomée, Gustaf (1866). "251 (Sverige. Illustrerad handbok för resande och derjemte ett minne för dem som besökt landet)". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 October 2021 – via Project Runeberg.
  11. ^ a b "49 (Svenska Familj-Journalen / Band III, årgång 1864)". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 October 2021 – via Project Runeberg.
  12. ^ a b Hammarin, Johan. "306 (Carlstads Stifts Herdaminne / Första delen)". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 October 2021 – via Project Runeberg.
  13. ^ Nordmann, Petrus (1888). "XXXIII (Finnarne i mellersta Sverige)". runeberg.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 October 2021 – via Project Runeberg.
  14. ^ a b Lindberg 1895, p. 6.
  15. ^ Lindberg 1895, p. 8.
  16. ^ Dahl 1779, p. 3.
  17. ^ Lindberg 1895, p. 10.
  18. ^ Dahl 1779, p. 18.
  19. ^ Ingemar Skoog, A. (1 February 2010). "The Alfred Nobel rocket camera. An early aerial photography attempt". Acta Astronautica. 66 (3–4): 624–635. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.06.011. ISSN 0094-5765.
  20. ^ "Alfred Nobel | Björkborns Herrgård | Visit Karlskoga Degerfors". www.visitkarlskogadegerfors.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  21. ^ Asarnoj, Nina (5 October 2017). "Herrgården som möjliggjorde Nobelpriset". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  22. ^ Jones, Ben (9 March 2022). "The Small Town In Wisconsin Boasting World-Famous Pie Is The Sweetest Day Trip Destination". Only In Your State. Retrieved 19 June 2022. The village has a rich heritage. It was founded in 1854 by immigrants from Karlskoga, Sweden, who named it after their country's capital.
  23. ^ Björndahl, Anna (30 August 2017). "Följ med till "Bullerbyn" Rosendal i Karlskoga". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  24. ^ Torgén & Hagberg 2015, p. 11.
  25. ^ "Kommuner i siffror". kommunsiffror.scb.se. Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Karlskoga". Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (in Norwegian Bokmål). 29 August 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2022. Etter årtusenskiftet har folketallet holdt seg stabilt.
  27. ^ Broberg 1980, p. 21.
  28. ^ "Finnsams vinterkonferens i Karlskoga anno 2014" (PDF) (in Swedish). Örebro. 2014. pp. 11−12. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  29. ^ "Utrikes födda efter län, kommun och födelseland 31 december 2017" (in Swedish). Statistics Sweden.
  30. ^ "Sankt Görans katolska församling". www.sanktgoran.nu (in Swedish). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  31. ^ Lindberg 1895, p. 21.
  32. ^ "Karlskoga kommun – 10 år som finsk förvaltningskommun". karlskoga.se (in Swedish). Karlskoga Municipality. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  33. ^ "Karlskogas expansiva näringsliv". karlskoga.se (in Swedish). Karlskoga Municipality. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  34. ^ "Vänorter och samarbetsländer". karlskoga.se (in Swedish). Karlskoga Municipality. Retrieved 29 November 2022.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit